Enoch OYEDIBU/Yinka ADETUNJI
As a measure to foster unity among the various ethnic groups who engage in farming, Isokan Farmers’ Association has been inaugurated.
The inauguration ceremony, which came up last March at Ogunlola Hall, Oja’gbo, Ogbomoso, was attended by many traditional rulers including Baale Masifa, High Chief Gbadebo Adeoba; Baale Ijeru, High Chief Elijah Popoola; Baale Aaje, High Chief Reuben Adesina Amao; as well as many dignitaries and representatives of the major farming tribes in the zone such as Fulani, Igede, Tiv and so on.
In his address, chairman of the association, Comrade Odebunmi Aderenwaju, described the association as birth of an innovative concept of peace and harmony, stressing it is established to promote understanding among the Yoruba farmers, Fulani herdsmen, Bororos, Igedes and Tivs in Ogbomosoland.
Revealing that the association which he stated started five years ago from the mutual understanding his father had with Fulani men who had lived with them for over forty years without rancour, emphasized that Ogbomoso remains the only community where harmonious relationship reigns between farmers and herdsmen.
“It is the beginning of a new dawn, the birth of a concept of peace, the brain behind the harmonious relationship between farmers, Fulanis, Bororos, Igedes, Tivs in Ogbomosoland within the five years of its existence…
“Isokan Agbe Association is a peace agenda. There is no impossibility in the agenda of God and it is a display of ray of hope to the entire nation on the problem of national insecurity bedeviling the corporate existence of farmers and Fulani herdsmen in our country.
‘The association came into existence five years ago, and it was born out of the relationship of my father with the Fulanis who had lived with us over 40 years at Idi-Oro, Surulere local government, till date without rancour. It is interesting to note that till date they still live together in peace, harmony and without sentiment, of course in a ceremonial gathering it will be difficult to differentiate a Fulani Ogbomoso born from the indigenes of the land.
“Ogbomosoland remains the only city that had witnessed a continuous and uninterrupted peace between the farmers and the Fulanis because of the effort of this association.”
Odebunmi identifies “equitable justice and purposeful dialogue among ourselves whenever there are issues among farmers and Fulanis,” as reasons for the existing peace, disclosing that the leadership of the association comprised members of all the tribes, whom he further said wade quickly into crises.
Revealing that since the association began a sum of over N10m in compensation had exchanged hands between farmers and herdsmen, the association’s chairman who also commended his vice, Mallam Abubakar Laro, lauded the Oyo state governor, Engr. Seyi Makinde for what he described as his excellent performance in administering the state.
He now appealed to the gathering that they needed assistance in establishment of “Isokan Agbe Integrated Farm Settlement of 500 hectares,” adding that the association also needed tractor, processing machines and chemical inputs as well as vehicles and motorcycles towards enhancing the peace process among members.
In his remark, High Chief Reuben Adesina Amao, Alaaje of Aaje Ologo, appealed for mutual understanding among farmers and herdsmen, while putting the blame of orgy of killings of farmers on foreign herdsmen whom he noted came into the country illegally.
Calling on vigilance on the part of the native people in order to forestall criminal attacks on them, Baale Amao, who is a retired state Director of Department of State Security Service (DSS), charged farmers and village dwellers to put efforts on intelligence gathering and be quick to report strange movements to authorities concerned and to traditional rulers.
He thanked Governor Makinde for supporting such a peace-building programme and urged on regular meetings among the different tribes just as he said people should remove the notion that the police are biased against the farmers in support of herdsmen.
In a chat with The Insight after the event, Comrade Odebunmi buttressed that “the unity of all farmers, be it herders, crop planters and others, is the purpose of the association. We are committed to promoting unity among all farmers in Ogbomosoland.
“Our means of livelihood is what always causes us to fight ourselves but if we can sit in one accord to iron this out, we believe there would not be crisis, so that is the reason for the creation of this forum.”
Also, Baale of farmers in Ogbomoso North local government, Oloye Adeyemo Emmanuel said, “it’s insane for anyone born and who got married in Ogbomoso to choose to sabotage other people’s businesses. That is not right.
“But with this forum we hope to kindle the fire of unity and fish out the weeds out of the farmers’ grains.”
Some eminent personalities were conferred with awards at the event.